Welcome back to our continuing series on athletes and mental illness. In our previous post, we explored the challenges that professional athletes face when it comes to their mental health. From being silenced by the fear of stigma in their sport to having their well-being overlooked in favor of performance, these athletes often do not receive the care that they need until after retirement. It's only after they step off the field for good that many athletes confront their mental health issues and seek treatment. For many, that moment comes too late. For the best depression therapy in Columbus, OH, call Legacy Freedom!
In 1986, California Angels pitcher Donnie Moore gave up a home run that cost the Angels the American League Championship Series. Just a few short years later, after his career declined due to injury, Moore killed himself in his Anaheim, California home. He was 35 years old. Junior Seau, one of the most storied linebackers in the NFL, took his own life after his retirement from the sport. His family had his brain tested by researchers after his death, and it was found that years of undiagnosed concussions and head trauma from playing in the NFL had caused chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in Seau. CTE is a neurodegenerative disease that has been linked to depression, memory loss, and other mental health issues. The death of Junior Seau sparked a conversation among the athletic community, particularly in the NFL, about the healing time and treatment requirements for concussions and players who endure head trauma in their sport. As a result, the concussion rules in the NFL have changed. However, these changes come too late for many former players. Seau played professional football for 20 years, for three different teams, yet was never recorded as having had a concussion by any medical personnel.
Above and beyond the physical injuries that can cause mental health issues, athletes face a loss of identity after a huge defeat in their career or when they are no longer able to perform in their sport. UFC fighter Rhonda Rousey stunned the world as she admitted to contemplating suicide after her crushing loss to Holly Holm. For Rousey, her athletic identity had become her identity. After her loss, she felt empty, like she was nothing. Speaking very candidly on the Ellen Degeneres show, Rousey talked about the thoughts that flooded her head. While the interview is not easy to watch, it is a valuable glimpse into the mindset of a professional athlete who has experienced a significant loss in the ring that led to a loss of identity.
The perception that professional athletes are mentally tough feeds the stigma against mental health care in the sports world. Football players have the highest suicide rate of any athletic group. While some of these are linked to traumatic brain injuries or reoccurring brain injuries on the field, many are not. Bullying from teammates, sexual abuse, retirement, and substance addiction are all risk factors for suicide in athletes.
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If you, or someone you love, have struggled with thoughts of suicide or experienced sexual abuse, been bullied, or are suffering from depression, Legacy Freedom can help with quality depression therapy in Columbus, OH. We know that talking about your mental health can be an awkward conversation. Our team of experts is here to help guide you towards the treatment you need. We embrace a holistic approach to mental health care and put you at the center of our focus. Together we can help you identify the root of your mental health concerns and empower you to overcome them through new coping methods, alternative therapies, and setting healthy boundaries.
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